An absolute tragedy and a scary story; currently looks like mid-air disintegration given lack of debris which would normally be found if the aircraft only broke up on impact with the sea.
What are people's theories?
Terrorism has to be a real possibility. Would the Uighurs of Xingjiang have the capability (or incentive) to do something like this as a proxy attack on Beijing, given the predominance of Chinese passengers on board?
#1 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
Thanks for this Chinarocks,
I'm supposed to be inputting Trat, so this was a welcome distraction
We've been arguing (I mean discussing) this all afternoon. Tragic and mysterious.
First off look at what we have:
Lack of wreckage
Look at precedents for how long it takes to find the aircraft:
Silk Air 185
Pundits seem to be saying if the flight had exploded at cruise altitude then wreckage would be over a vast area. If it had crashed more or less solid (ala AF 447) then wreckage would have been concentrated in a more confined area. There is however, no wreckage at all. so far.
The oil spill was from a ship and the "tail section" was some logs tied together.
The ocean is a big place.
The two fake passports
I wouldn't read too much into this at this stage. This story, related to the 2010 Air India crash (where 10 pax were determined to have dodgy papers) points out at least one reason for having one -- migrant labourers whose employers are holding the real passport. And there is no shortage of migrant labour out here.
Lack of Mayday / cockpit communication severed
This ties in with either a catastrophic incident (bomb or hull failure -- with the latter being unlikely given the 777 has a tremendous safety record, though the flight had been damaged previously) OR with the Silk Air scenario.
Captain Zaharie had over 18,000 hours as a pilot and at least by this summary, was very very very into it. Who the hell builds their own flight simulator?!
I've seen no claims so far (other than Murdoch's ranting on Twitter) to suggest terrorism is behind this. The loons who blow stuff up, tend to claim it very quickly. Nobody so far.
Flight turning back
This has been the oddest part where civilian radar noticed a deviation while military radar noted a turnaround. I'd have thought something like this was fairly cut and dried, so this seems odd.
Well out of left field
China blowing us dissidents/"troublemakers" travelling on fake passports.
Mid air collision
Well, would have to be with a military (hello Vietnam) or private aircraft as if it was commercial we'd know about it by now.
Out of very left field
Random military/tech crazy thing
See Shane Todd and 20 of the passengers worked for a US semi conductor company Freescale (apparently previously part of Motorola)
Who was on the plane
Until the press has totally broken down the passenger manifest, we'll not know who was on the plane and until that information is made public, everything else is just conjecture.
In summary, very peculiar.
Just realised I didn't address your point about the Uighurs -- surely if this was terrorism from their POV, a domestic flight in China which would be heavily Chinese in Pax count, would have been an easier, more affordable, with most likely even more lax security target.
"A domestic flight in China which would be heavily Chinese in Pax count, would have been an easier, more affordable, with most likely even more lax security target."
Good point somtam, although maybe the Uighurs would be more recognizable (and discriminated against) in China and would be subject to a more thorough search than in another country. Although, they probably wouldn't select another Muslim's country's national airline as their target either. Terrorism is a long shot, but this whole thing is just so weird that it's hard to discount any possibility. It seems no more of a long shot than a plane of this one's standing to catastrophically fail of its own accord.
Given the lack of a mayday call of any nature, then we seem to be left with just these two possibilities:
1. Catastrophic, mid-air failure.
Another possibility, although surely a long shot given pilot's experience, is that the crew had a meltdown regarding "situational awareness" and totally lost track of where they were / what they were doing (I'm sure there is abetter way of explaining this phenomenon but it is something along these lines).
#4 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
The fact that the plane turned around, if in fact this is a fact, certainly indicates to me that something was wrong and the pilot knew it. The fact that there was no radio transmission, given the appearance of this problem, is bizarre. Massive, catastrophic failure would seem to come from an explosion. That could be caused by a bomb or fuel detonating, which has happened in the past. But it wouldn't account for thre pilot turning around. That suggests that there was something wrong with the airframe, the pilot noted it, began to return and the aircraft came apart rapidly due to structural failure. Given what we know so far, I would say that massive structural failure seems most likely. But what we don't know right now would fill a room, and what we do fills a thimble. so... to be continued...
#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I was reading the views of an experienced pilot regarding this story. Thought his views on one area were particularly interesting.
He said he can understand the lack of a mayday call because if there is a lot going wrong on a plane (and this is probably best case scenario here), then all of the crew could be so consumed with trying to rectify the problem that they simply don't have the time or capability to make such a call. Also, it is of no immediate benefit as there is most likely nothing that somebody on the ground can do to fix the problem.
#6 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
"He said he can understand the lack of a mayday call because if there is a lot going wrong on a plane (and this is probably best case scenario here), then all of the crew could be so consumed with trying to rectify the problem that they simply don't have the time or capability to make such a call. Also, it is of no immediate benefit as there is most likely nothing that somebody on the ground can do to fix the problem."
This does make a lot of sense. I wish aircraft had designated RTOs, but I guess that would cost a lot.
#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Yes, last messages make sense, but there is a problem with your last theory. Just to remember. With Air France`s flight (AF447) there was an "automatic message sending system" named ACARS that sent every error on the plane to a central database inland. After a few hours everybody around the world and reading the news knew that something in the plane was wrong (disagreement in the reading of plane`s speed due to ice in the Pitot Tubes most likely). ACARS is also implemented in this kind of planes, in the 777 of Malaysia Airlines I meant, but at this moment we know by the media that ACARS didn´t send any report of failures on board, so... Really strange case, but at least once the plane is located I don´t think it will be very difficult to recover the black boxes due to the shallow waters in the Thailand Gulf.
#9 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
Now Leonard, I hadn't considered that possibility.
#10 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
My uneducated and uninformed opinion:
Some kind of electrical malfunction, perhaps. If a plane loses all power, it can fly for a little bit longer. This would explain why the transponder stopped giving location data and why no mayday signal was given, would it not? And it would explain why the pilot tried to return back home...
I also find it unsettling that this information that the plane went west back over the Malaka Strait is only coming out now. The extensive searching in the Andaman Sea seemed bizarre but it seemed like they already knew this. Not confident that the Malaysian authorities have this thing under control.
#12 SaltwaterGem has been a member since 4/1/2013. Posts: 22
It now appears that this thing is as likely to be off the coast of Sri Lanka as Japan.
Mind bogglingly weird, but I guess the oceans are vast, vast places.
#13 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
Really becoming beyond farcical. I read this morning the US is moving some of its fleet into the Indian Ocean/Andaman Sea area to look for it there -- while the Malaysians continue to look on the east and west coasts of the peninsula. I also saw this which is an incomplete chart of radar coverage across that region. They were all asleep?
"The strange thing in all this story is that the phones of some passengers are ringing but no one is answering so this could really mean that actually the plane hasn't crashed but it just disappeared somewhere."
I personally would pay no heed to this theory, given the presence of call forwarding. Where has it disappeared to? Somewhere with mobile coverage but where nobody would see (and presumable report the presence of) a monstrosity of a jet?
#15 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
Good movie script
#16 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
So just off phone with friend whose father was a commercial 747 pilot. His theory was (this is second hand now :
Pilot's oxygen bottles are somewhere under the flightdesk, near some avionics. Oxy bottle explodes (as happened with a Qantas flight a coupla years ago). Explosion damages avionics and aircraft depressurises.
At 35,000 you apparently have about 30 seconds to get an oxy mask on before things get foggy. Pilots get masks on (as do pax out back) put plane into descent, turn left and level out (apparently standard practise).
Because pilot's oxy bottle exploded, they have no air and so pass out.
Cockpit door is locked. Plane trundles on on new bearing.
Pax air supply 30 odd minutes.
Hard to argue with any of that somtam, from what we know.
Eerie in any event.
As with AF 447, all you can hope is that the passengers didn't suffer too much and maybe were even unaware of what was going on.
You would think there aren't many safer things you could do in life than take a six-hour flight, predominantly over land, on a Boeing 777.
#18 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
This still would not explain why the plane wasn't detected on radar by anyone. I find that most peculiar. No radio message? That would not take that long to execute. Something still doesn't add up here.
#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Really becoming beyond farcical.
Emphasis on this. This plane may as well be on Endor. The Malaysian authorities are really proving themselves to be clueless. Truly feel bad for the families that are in the middle of this debacle.
#20 SaltwaterGem has been a member since 4/1/2013. Posts: 22
And just when you thought it couldn't get any stranger:
give this a read
See the comments at end of piece as well regarding patent ownership.
"Cloaking device". Yeah, the Romulans hijacked it. Too bad Snopes debunked it so quickly. Conspiracy theorists the world over could have had a field day with that one.
#23 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I'm still waiting to see how the CIA did it using HAARP. HAARP apparently caused the earthquake which caused the Japanese Tsunami and the major hurricaine in the PI was caused by HAARP. Surely it can bring down an aircraft.
#24 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957